13 February 2009

Ecuador Asks Bondholders to Identify Themselves in a Letter

By Lester Pimentel and Nathan Gill
Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador is asking investors who own the country’s bonds maturing in 2012 and 2030 to identify themselves, according to a letter posted by the Emerging Markets Traders Association.

Bondholders should contact adviser Lazard Freres, according to the letter signed by Finance Minister Maria Elsa Viteri. A spokesman at Ecuador’s Finance Ministry declined to comment on the letter.

Ecuador “wishes to engage in discussions with its private creditors with a view to find appropriate solutions to its Global bonds 2012 and 2030,” Viteri wrote in the letter. Ecuador is “convinced that a better understanding of the creditor’s views and expectations can help both parties to reach a suitable solution,” the letter said.

In December, President Rafael Correa defaulted on a $30.6 million interest payment for the country’s 12 percent bonds due in 2012. Correa has said those securities, along with the country’s 10 percent bonds, are “illegal” and “illegitimate.” Ecuador has a $134 million interest payment due on Feb. 15 for its $2.69 billion of 10 percent notes maturing in 2030, according to Royal Bank of Scotland. Ecuador hasn’t decided whether it will make that payment, Viteri said yesterday.
    
The yield on Ecuador’s notes due in 2030 was unchanged at 29.34 percent at 1:54 p.m. in New York, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bond’s price held at 30 cents on the dollar.

Last month, Ecuador decided to honor its 9.375 percent bond due in 2015 after invoking a 30-day grace period. The government views that bond’s legality differently than that of its notes due 2012 and 2030, Viteri said last month.

Ecuador’s 2012 and 2030 notes are restructured securities from the country’s last default in 1999.

An audit commission created by Correa said in a 172-page report in November that Ecuador’s global bonds due in 2012 and 2030 “show serious signs of illegality,” including issuance without proper government authorization.